The Leadership Spotlight continues this week with Allen Harris. Allen is the Director of Content Development for Dave Ramsey‘s company, where he leads Dave’s team of writers and editors.
With more than a thousand publishing credits to his name, his work has appeared in In Touch magazine, New Man Magazine, and The Alabama Baptist, as well as daveramsey.com and intouch.org. He has written or contributed to several books, including two national best-sellers, causing his mother to wonder why his name never appears on the covers. He lives with his wife, Maryalice, and their daughter near Nashville, TN.
CLo: What is your role in leadership?
AH: I serve as the Director of Content Development for Dave’s team. Basically, that means I lead all the writers and editors that produce all of our written content for the web, books, magazines, newsletters, training materials, etc.
Alternate job titles:
- Chief Word Nerd
- Grammar Nazi
- Director of Scrabble
- Front Man for “Allen and the Punctuators”
CLo: What is the best advice you’ve ever received about leadership?
AH: Dave Ramsey: “Lead people according to their personality style, not with yours.
I’m a very high C-D personality, so I’m generally task-focused. I have to be intentional about getting to know each one of my team members on a personal level so that I can communicate, instruct, lead, and encourage in a way that is meaningful to them.
Also a big “A HA!” for me: George Patton, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” Again, my high C causes me to think, re-think, and then think again. I have to be intentional about making decisions and not allowing indecision to bring my personal productivity—and my team’s productivity—to a screeching halt.
CLo: What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?
AH: Huh. That’s a big one. Let me approach it differently and tell you what the biggest challenge facing me as a leader is today. I’m currently hiring three open positions on my team. Because we are so well-known, have such a solid reputation, and have experienced significant growth even during “these troubled economic times,” I have a barrel full of applicants for these three positions.
It’s heartbreaking seeing so many quality writers out of work, and you’d think it would make it easy to hire a few new people. It doesn’t. Instead, it really forces me to bear down and look at each and every individual candidate on a personal and professional level. I believe that the fastest way to destroy a productive team is to inject just one bad hire. Therefore, I am in the process of painstakingly looking at every individual’s resume, cover letter, and writing samples. The goal isn’t to find a good fit, but to find the perfect fit. We don’t hire “good enough” around here. We hire the best. God’s always got just the right person lined up; our job is to sift through dozens or hundreds or thousands of “good enough” people until we find the superstar.
CLo: How do you continue to improve yourself as a leader?
AH: Unconventional answer: I admit failure early and often. As soon as I see myself as above correction, I will stop growing and my team’s downfall will begin. I make myself accountable not only to my leaders, but also to those team members who report to me. If I can’t accept the heat when I screw up, I shouldn’t expect them to take responsibility when they do, either.
CLo: How do you invest in others?
AH: Time. Trust. Delegation.
I pour my own time into my team members, working closely with them in their first year or so on the team. As we work and grow together, we earn each other’s trust, so that when I ultimately start delegating important tasks and goals, I know they can handle it—and they know I know they can handle it.
CLo: What was the last book you read?
AH: How about the last four? I had most of these going simultaneously over the past month:
1. EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey (manuscript; leadership)
2. The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson (health/fitness)
3. Pinheads and Patriots by Bill O’Reilly (politics)
4. Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It by Gary Taubes (health/fitness)